When Can Digital Evidence Play a Role in Divorce Proceedings?

 Posted on August 01, 2023 in Divorce

Kane County Family Law AttorneyIn today's digital age, we rely heavily on electronic devices and online platforms for communication, socializing, and storing personal information. As a result, digital evidence has become increasingly relevant in divorce proceedings. Whether this evidence consists of text messages, emails, social media posts, or location data from smartphones, electronic records can provide valuable information that may impact the outcome of a divorce case. Some ways that digital information can affect a divorce include:

Discovering Hidden Assets

Many people use online banking services or financial apps to manage their finances. By analyzing bank statements and transactions made through these platforms, it may be possible to identify suspicious activity or undisclosed accounts. Attempts to hide assets may be brought to the attention of the court, and this may affect decisions about the division of marital property.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can also provide insights into an individual's lifestyle and spending habits. Posts about extravagant vacations or expensive purchases may contradict claims that a spouse has limited financial resources. Additionally, email exchanges between a spouse and other parties may contain discussions related to financial matters. For instance, a person may send an email discussing plans to transfer funds offshore—evidence that could significantly impact decisions about property division.

Proving Adultery

Digital evidence is frequently used to address allegations of infidelity in divorce cases. Text messages exchanged between a cheating spouse and their paramour can serve as solid proof that they have engaged in an extramarital affair. Similarly, social media posts, private messages sent via messaging applications, phone call logs, and GPS tracking data from mobile devices may provide evidence indicating that a spouse has engaged in an inappropriate relationship outside of their marriage.

However, it should be noted that since Illinois only accepts “irreconcilable differences” as the grounds for divorce, it may not be necessary to prove that a spouse committed adultery. Infidelity may only be relevant if a spouse dissipated marital assets while engaging in an affair or in other limited circumstances.

Custody Disputes and Parenting Capacity

When making decisions about child custody, the court's main concern is the best interests of the child. In some cases, digital evidence may be used to evaluate a parent's ability and willingness to fulfill their parental responsibilities.

Social media activity often provides insights into a person's lifestyle choices, including evidence of drug or alcohol abuse or other irresponsible behavior. Posts or pictures shared on platforms like Facebook or Instagram that discuss this type of behavior can raise concerns about a parent's fitness.

Furthermore, text messages or emails that demonstrate an inability to cooperate with the other parent may impact custody decisions. For example, if one parent consistently ignores the other parent’s requests to discuss issues related to the couple’s children, or if they engage in harassment or send other inappropriate messages, these communications could be reviewed by the court, and that parent may face restrictions on their decision-making authority or the parenting time they have with their children.

Domestic Violence and Protective Orders

Digital evidence can play an important role in family law cases involving accusations of domestic violence. Emails, text messages, or photos/videos depicting abusive incidents can serve as strong pieces of evidence demonstrating that a spouse or parent has taken actions that could cause physical or emotional harm to their partner, their children, or other family members. Electronic communications may play a role in determining whether an order of protection should be issued in these situations, and they can also affect subsequent decisions about divorce-related issues.

The Importance of Legal Representation

Understanding how to address complex issues related to digital evidence is not always easy. Fortunately, a qualified family law attorney can provide guidance on how to gather, analyze, and present this evidence effectively. If necessary, a divorce lawyer can help obtain subpoenas or court orders to access electronic records, and they can present digital evidence in a way that complies with all legal requirements and ensures that it will be considered correctly by the court when making decisions about the issues in a case.

Contact Our Kane County Divorce Attorneys for Digital Evidence

If you are going through a complex divorce where digital evidence may play a role, or if you need assistance retrieving important electronic records, the experienced St. Charles divorce lawyers of Goostree Law Group can provide the guidance you need. We will work closely with you to ensure that information will be used correctly to help you achieve a positive outcome in your divorce. Call 630-584-4800 today for a free consultation.






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